Children arrive at school between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m. Each child is greeted and helped to find an activity to begin working with — often a piece of work-in-progress “saved” with her/his name card at the end of the previous day — working alone or as part of a small group. As long as a child has been shown how to work with a particular activity, and as long as the child is working with it respectfully (even if not precisely as shown!), the child may continue to choose and work with whatever corresponds to her/his interest of the moment.
For the first hour or two of each morning — the length of time determined by the purposefulness with which the children are working — children complete their chosen activities and choose new ones, with one or more having individual or small-group presentations from one of the teachers.
During this time, classroom jobs are also undertaken by the children: snack is prepared for serving by the snack-bringer of the day, the fish are fed, polishing cloths folded, book-shelf choices made, chalk board washed, etc. The age mix within the class fosters a community-like atmosphere, where older children may help younger ones, and the younger children are able to observe, learn from, and be inspired by their older peers.
By mid-morning, teachers and children come together to attend to the classroom “business” – discussing plans or problems, passing snack, sharing of important happenings or observations, reading a story together, taking attendance (often called by a reading child), singing etc. After snack has been served and cleaned up by the children, they go outdoors to play -- building structures in the large sandbox, playing hide & seek under the trees, climbing on the playground structure and creating new imaginative games. In the event of rain, indoor activities are designed to give a good deal of physical activity: group singing of songs with motion, enactment of a story (with each child taking a role).
After playtime, children return to the work they left to go outside together. At the end of the morning, children are again called together to get ready for lunch (inside or, weather permitting, outside). Outdoor play for all usually follows lunch.
The 3 year old children that stay for the full day have nap time between the times 1:00 and 1:30. In the meantime, the 4 and 5-year-old children will continue afternoon activities in the classroom, which usually begins by reading a story book as a group from the library next door. The remainder of the afternoon is spent doing individual work and/or presentations (as in the early morning work period, though often with materials too complex or advanced to be presented during the morning time with younger children in the classroom), taking appropriate field trips (a visit to a working Vermont farm, for example), or helping the children to experience responsibility as members of their school community by walking to the library next door to check out some materials for a planned classroom activity.
At 2:45, the children get ready to go outdoors and spend the rest of the afternoon outside. Between 3:00 and 3:30 p.m. most children go home. Others stay on to participate in the after school program.